In a stunning victory, the USU men’s volleyball team took down No. 10 Utah Valley 3-1 on Saturday in a big win, not only for the team, but for the program as a whole.
“It was huge,” said head coach Treva McUne of the win. “Just a big win like that is a huge confidence booster for the program.”
It was a daunting task, beating a top-10 team. Added to that pressure was the fact that in two previous games against the Wolverines, the Aggies lost in straight sets. But a 26-24 first set win for Utah State changed things in the team huddle according to outside hitter Matt Rudder.
“We were so excited,” Rudder said. “I know this season we’ve never taken a set from them so that was a first time for us. We were really excited, and we rolled with the momentum into the rest of the game.”
Though the Aggies dropped the second set 21-25, the team didn’t falter and won the next two sets in convincing fashion 25-18 and 25-20.
According to McUne, the team did well in nearly every facet of the game.
“Overall, they did great,” McUne said. “Our serving and passing was amazing, it kept us consistent. We were able to establish our middles and open up our pin hitters a little bit more. Our blockers actually did amazing, they actually shut down their hitters.”
While nearly all aspects of USU’s game were on point, passing was something McUne, Rudder and setter Christian McKinnon all said was great in repelling UVU’s attack.
“Our passers did a really really good job,” McKinnon said. “UVU has some really really good servers and that’s one of their big strengths, and our passers did an awesome job just keeping the ball high and off the net.”
Playing in the Estes Center was an experience that won’t be lost on the club. It was the team’s first ever competitive match within this building’s walls. McKinnon called it an “awesome facility” and expressed his gratitude to the athletics department for letting them use it.
In addition to playing in a higher-end facility, there were far more fans than usual. Normally, there are maybe a couple of fans at the men’s volleyball games. On Saturday, there were a couple hundred armed with signs and cheering the team on.
“It was just awesome to get so many people here,” McKinnon said. “The HURD did an awesome job advertising it and we’re super amped that we got to play in front of people.”
There are several challenges ahead for the team as they begin to prepare for nationals, but Saturday’s victory was, according to McUne, “something that we can build off of and grow.” Rudder added that the team can use this victory in a few weeks in the conference championship tournament.
“It’s really good for us,” Rudder said. “We have conference championships in a couple weeks so it’s really exciting for us to have that momentum and roll forward with this.”